Amelia Andersdotter: Internet copyright laws? They can walk the plank, says Pirate Party politician

Ian Burrell talk to the Swedish MEP who wants free music and movie downloads to stop internet users being criminalised

For a self-proclaimed pirate, there’s not a lot of yo-ho-ho about Amelia Andersdotter. The youngest member of the European Parliament may be only 25 but she has serious work to do.

Specifically, she is determined to reform Europe’s copyright laws to prevent teachers, internet users and DJs ending up in court. For Ms Andersdotter and her colleagues in Sweden’s Pirate Party there should be no such thing as an illegal download.

File sharing of films or music reflects a basic desire to “expand cultural horizons” and should not be criminalised, she believes:  “Using culture as a common reference point in social interaction is so normal and so human that I think not allowing that in law does not make any sense at all.”

On a visit to Britain to participate in a debate on media piracy,  Ms Andersdotter said musicians and film-makers had no right to charge people for downloading their work for non-commercial use, and the public should be allowed to interact with it for free.

There are other ways to fund films and music, she said, for example, through sponsorship deals or live performances: “A lot of the European film industry is sponsored by public money already.”

“You don’t have the right to get money. If your idea was commercially uninteresting then maybe you need another idea,” she said.

The militant stance of the Pirate Party has resonated with voters in several countries since it founded in 2006. Its popularity has given rise to parties with the same name and similar goals in Europe and worldwide, forming the International Pirate Party movement.

In the UK it has made limited progress:  its most prominent figure, Lawrence “Loz” Kaye, stood at the Manchester Central by-election in November collecting 1.9 per cent of votes. Ms Andersdotter, former international co-ordinator of the party’s youth wing, is indisputably the party’s star attraction. In Brussels, Andersdotter sits on the Committee for Industry, Research and Energy, the committee on International Trade and the committee on Budgetary Control. She is involved in the parliament’s work in South Korea and with the Andean community.

The party’s history is tied to the notorious file-sharing website The Pirate Bay which, for 10 years, has shifted around the world to avoid prosecution. “They are being persecuted and they are living in legal uncertainty,” Andersdotter complained.

The MEP claims that copyright law is arcane but remains in place because of the power of industry bodies – record companies, film distributors, performance rights collectors and publishers – with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Andersdotter, one of the speakers at the London School of Economics debate last week, does not believe the music business is struggling financially: “It funds itself fine, actually,” she insisted.

She argued that musicians and composers who produce content for remixers should make their money from concerts and deals with commercial streaming services: “The revenues in all cultural sectors are rising, and have been rising for many years. People are spending a larger amount of money today on cultural content even though they are also pirate copying a lot of material,” she said.

“What they aren’t having is freedom to interact with the cultural material they want, so we have criminal teachers (using downloads as classroom tools) and criminal teenagers interacting with cultural content.”

The music rights organisation PRS for Music took a different view: “If creators cannot earn from what they create, it is a hobby and not a business,” said its spokesman.

“Jobs, careers, livelihoods and the future of content creation on the scale we enjoy today would undoubtedly be harmed,” he said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea